Hundreds of former Land Girls attended the unveiling of a life-size statue in honour of their work during the two World Wars. The 8ft high bronze sculpture, created by Denise Dutton, was unveiled by Sophie, Countess of Wessex, at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
The tribute honours members of the Women’s Land Army (WLA) who worked on farms during the wars when conscription and military casualties led to a shortage of labourers.
Land Girls worked on farms to feed the nation when men went to war. The official minimum age was 17, but some lied and became Land Girls at 16 or even younger. Many had been barmaids, waitresses, maids, hairdressers or mill workers, and some enrolled straight from school.
With their uniform of green ties and jumpers and brown felt slouch hats, they toiled from dawn to dusk each day. They planted and harvested crops, tended animals and poultry, and delivered milk – all for £1.40 a week, with 70p deducted for board and lodging.
Often referred to as the ‘Forgotten Army ‘, 20,000 surviving Land Girls were finally honoured in 2007 when the Government announced their efforts would be recognised with a commemorative badge.